Regis Philbin Says Kathie Lee Gifford Was ‘The Best Part’ Of His TV Life Amid Estrangement From Kelly Ripa

The longtime 'Live!' host reflects on his long friendship with the departing 'Today' star, but his relationship with Ripa remains strained.

Regis Philbin and television host Kathie Lee Gifford attend Greenwich Film Festival 2015 - Changemaker Honoree Gala at L'Escale Restaurant on June 6, 2015 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The longtime 'Live!' host reflects on his long friendship with the departing 'Today' star, but his relationship with Ripa remains strained.

Regis Philbin paid tribute to Kathie Lee Gifford on her final day on the Today show. In a sweet video message, which you can see below, the 87-year-old former Live With Regis and Kathie Lee host delivered an emotional sendoff to his longtime co-star as she ended her 11-year run on the NBC morning show.

In his video tribute, Philbin, whose long list of television credits dates back to the 1960s, recalled working with Gifford on New York’s local The Morning Show starting in 1985 and then the syndicated Live with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1988-2000, Page Six reports.

“Kathie Lee, you want to know the best part of my life? My TV life? Was in the 15 years I spent with you, from 1985 to 2000. We stayed friends throughout the entire game and it was a lot of fun.”

Philbin also wished Gifford the best of luck in her burgeoning movie career, telling his longtime friend and co-star,” I know you’re going to be a great success.”

A tearful Kathie Lee Gifford later told her Today co-host Hoda Kotb that she has remained close with Regis and his wife, Joy, and that she will be seeing them over the summer as they all return to Greenwich, Connecticut, where they both have homes.

Regis Philbin has worked with a lot of people during his 50-year TV career, so his revelation that Kathie Lee Gifford was the best part of his TV life was a sweet way to recall their time together. The duo’s still-close relationship is also in stark contrast to Regis’ rumored estrangement from Kathie Lee Gifford’s Live! replacement, Kelly Ripa.

Regis Philbin and new co-host Kelly Ripa speak to the audience during a broadcast of 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' February 5, 2001 in New York City.
  Spencer Platt / Getty Images

After Kathie Lee Gifford left Regis’ side on Live! back in 2000, All My Children veteran Kelly Ripa took her place. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa co-hosted Live! With Regis and Kelly from 2001 to 2011. And while their onscreen persona had a father-daughter feel to it, when Philbin retired from the syndicated talk show there was reportedly no love lost between the two.

In a 2017 interview on Larry King Now, Regis Philbin discussed his strained relationship with Kelly Ripa. When asked by King if he keeps in touch with Ripa, Philbin responded, “Not really, no,” according to People.

“She got very offended when I left. She thought I was leaving because of her. I was leaving because I was getting older and it wasn’t right for me anymore.”

While it seems surprising that the Regis and Kelly co-stars no longer speak, in past interviews, Philbin has had nothing but kind words to say about his time on the show with Ripa. And shortly after Regis left Live!, Kelly Ripa talked to Good Housekeeping about what she missed most about the TV morning show veteran.

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“His funny stories,” Ripa said of Philbin. “He’s a great storyteller. There was always something going wrong in his life, and that was always very funny.”

Regis Philbin did make a return to Live! for the show’s Halloween special in 2015—with pal Kathie Lee by his side—and Kelly Ripa seemed happy to see him. But the TV legend has only made one return trip to the talk show he helmed for more than 20 years. Kelly Ripa went on to co-host Live! with Michael Strahan, and now, Ryan Seacrest.

You can see Regis Philbin’s poignant goodbye to Kathie Lee Gifford below.